5 Gallon Air Conditioner - Does it work? BTUs a primer

5 Gallon Air Conditioner - Does it work? BTUs a primer

This is the 2nd blog in a series that will try and answer the elusive "does it work" question.

Today we will be talking about BTUs, what they are and why they are important.

BTU = British Thermal Unit.

In engineering terms, it means the amount of "heat energy" required to raise one pound of water, one degree Fahrenheit.

But, what does that REALLY mean?

When you go to a home improvement store, and you see a portable air conditioner, and it says that it is a 10,000 BTU unit, what does that really mean?

First off, there is one important term left out of the marketing of air conditioners.  A 10K BTU AC, means what?  It is missing a time component.  Think about it for a second, in the terms of cooling capacity. 10,000 BTUs of heat (cooling) energy produced is what the marketing materials say. But, the big factor that they DON'T SAY, is OVER WHAT PERIOD OF TIME. 

For instance, if I say that I have an air conditioner that is a 10K BTU unit, but it takes 14 hours to drop the temperature 5 degrees F in a 15 x 15ft work space vs. a 10K BTU unit that can drop the temperature 20 degrees in 15x15ft work space in 1 hour, which is the "better" unit, they are both 10K BTU units?  Obviously the one that cools the space more and faster right?

So, that is a little marketing trickery that an educated consumer needs to be aware of.